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Artys 2010 Page all

Celebrating Utah's Arts: The best in local theater, dance, art & more.

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // September 15,2010 -

Art—real art—is a discovery. It’s something that hits us in a place we didn’t expect to find it, making us think about things we didn’t expect to think about, and feel things we didn’t expect to feel. It’s a dare—and sometimes, it breaks rules.

The theme of this year’s issue is a tribute to graffiti and public art, a category we added to our reader’s ballot. It’s a recognition not just of the high-profile graffiti that hit the state around Sundance time, but also of the fact that our concept of what to call “art” is always shifting and evolving—sometimes in ways that will inspire argument. Is a tattoo art in the same way that a painting is? Is an article of clothing art in the same way that a mixed-media collage is? And is it art when someone doesn’t want it to be where it is?

For the fifth year, City Weekly invited our readers to take up the challenge of answering questions like that, and our contributors have added their own praise for favorite creative enterprises of the past year. We hope you discover something here that makes you re-think the boundaries of art.

Scott Renshaw
Arts & Entertainment Editor
scottr@cityweekly.net

Contributors: Brandon Burt, Stephen Dark, Austen Diamond, Marty Foy, Bill Frost, Jesse Fruhwirth, Rachel Hanson, Jennifer Heaney, Josh Loftin, Dan Nailen, Eric S. Peterson, Scott Renshaw, Gavin Sheehan, Brian Staker, Jacob Stringer, Jerre Wroble

readers_choice.jpg
BEST ORIGINAL PLAY
Charm, Kathleen Cahill (Salt Lake Acting Company)

One can only ponder what Margaret Fuller would have thought about this adaptation of her life, as resident SLAC playwright Kathleen Cahill penned a surreal look into the female journalist and pioneering feminist. Serving as an imaginative exploration within a biographical play, the story takes elements of Fuller’s experiences and musings from other 1840s writers and translates them into an avant-garde production about her struggle to overcome male-dominated society. Fuller’s (Cheryl Gaysunas) audience interactions brought thoughtful and enlightening commentary to the already entertaining performances, making the play an endearing delight this past season. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

BEST TOURING THEATER PRODUCTION
Avenue Q [Broadway Across America]

Avenue_Q.jpgIn this musical-comedy, humans and puppets interact a la Sesame Street, but that’s where the similarities end. Well, sorta: The puppets coming to terms with their homosexuality do bear an uncanny resemblance to Bert and Ernie. Elsewhere, the characters—both fabric and flesh-and-blood—learn valuable life lessons via songs like “The Internet is for Porn” and “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?” as they move into adulthood. Utahns (save for the scattered few ill-prepared for the adult fare in Avenue Q) loved the show, including a graphic onstage sex scene, set to “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love).” BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com


Read the 2010-2011 Utah Theater & Dance Schedule


BEST DANCE PRODUCTION
Propel (Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company)

Typical of RWDC performances, Propel featured several company repertory pieces—including Alicia Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” and Joan Woodbury’s “L’Invasion”—which complemented a brand new commissioned work by New York-based choreographer John Jasperse. “Spurts of Activity Before the Emptiness of Late Afternoon” was in turn atypical for a Jasperse piece, as it featured non-sets and seemingly pedestrian movement. Reaching outside RWDC’s comfort zone to perform its commissioned pieces has become an important way for such an established company to imbue each and every performance with entertaining freshness and vitality. RirieWoodbury.com

BEST DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY
Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Gravity (Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company)

It’s not often that dance companies have the funding and creative gumption to include live music onstage during a performance. And when one of the most respected composers in Scandinavia, Jens Horsving, asks specifically to work with you while enlisting a renowned music ensemble—Copenhagen-based Figura—how can you say no? Boye-Christensen’s resulting Gravity easily takes the cake for the most inventive choreography of the past year. Set to the experimental sounds of Figura, the work expertly averted the trappings of such an esoteric subject matter, grounding itself in physical elements such as pushing/pulling and action/reaction. RirieWoodbury.com

BEST INDIVIDUAL DANCER
T.J. Spaur (Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company)

For Ririe-Woodbury dancer T.J. Spaur, the rave reviews started immediately upon his joining the company. Unfortunately, after just four seasons with the company, Spaur has listened to the critics and decided to move onto the larger stage of New York City. According to RWDC Artistic Director Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Spaur’s charm, sense of humor, large physicality and willingness to experiment should have him on Broadway in no time. Utah’s loss will certainly be to the world’s greater benefit. RirieWoodbury.com

BEST STAND-UP COMEDIAN
Levi Rounds

Mustached, slender-framed and often mullet-ed, Levi Rounds offers comedy as scrappy as his appearance—nothing’s held back. Throughout his four or five years of stand-up, he’s trampled over topics such as religion (acid trips walking through Temple Square), kids (the merits of women having tapeworms versus children) and abortion (God’s divine plan). Rounds is captivating onstage, generally swigging beer while performing. Aside from being spotted at dive bars scrawling fresh material with other local comedians, he’s at Mo’s Neighborhood Grill every Sunday night on his trajectory to stardom. MySpace.com/LeviRounds

AMERIGO.jpgBEST LOCAL THEATER PRODUCTION
Amerigo (Plan-B Theatre Company)

BEST THEATER PERFORMANCE
Kirt Bateman, Amerigo (Plan-B Theatre Company)

It could easily have been politically correct, history-scolding art at its most annoying: A “trial” in purgatory pitting Amerigo Vespucci against Christopher Columbus for the right to call himself discoverer of the New World. But playwright Eric Samuelsen refused to give in to the temptation to simply lament Age of Discovery imperialism and crafted instead a thoughtful and funny exploration of how much contemporary America still rests on the twin pillars of capitalism and religion. Jerry Rapier’s deft direction created an effective “theater-in-the-semicircle” experience, but the cast’s anchor was Kirt Bateman, who reveled in his role as Niccolo Machiavelli, the de facto ringmaster of the proceedings. A stalwart of the Salt Lake City stage, Bateman has excelled in roles calling for a frisky edge, but Machiavelli’s celebration of Queen Isabella’s—well, Machiavellian—power-grabs was just one of the moments that reminded audiences of Bateman’s versatility. PlanBTheatreCompany.org

BEST IMPROV TROUPE
Laughing Stock

Experience and the utmost sincerity about being ridiculous and entertaining at all costs have kept fans coming back to Laughing Stock for nearly 15 years. The group has been a staple of the improv scene, pulling from a troupe of 15 members, many of whom have been around from the beginning. Aside from performing festivals like EVE, acting in half-improv, half-scripted plays like Robyn Hood: Boyz in the Hood and challenging other troupes to improv battles, the veterans can be spotted every Saturday and Sunday night at Off Broadway Theatre. Success never sounded so funny. LaughingStock.us

BEST FICTION BOOK
Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler

For many writers of young-adult fiction, “coming of age” is a concept restricted to burgeoning sexuality. But there’s more depth and complexity to the way first-time novelist and Salt Lake City resident Kristen Chandler told the story of KJ, a 16-year-old girl living with her widowed father near Yellowstone National Park. The controversy over the reintroduction of wolves to the park becomes an entry point for KJ learning to stick to unpopular convictions in a world of polarized political views, even as she deals with first love. The result is a rich tale that effectively mixes romance, whodunit and sincere character study. KrisChandlerStories.com

BEST NON-FICTION BOOK
U.S. Highway 89: The Scenic Route to Seven National Parks, by Ann Torrence

Once tracing a 1,600-mile route from Nogales, Ariz., to Piegan, Mont., U.S. Highway 89 is, as the title of Ann Torrence’s book says, the scenic road to seven national parks, from the Grand Canyon to the Grand Teton. Torrence’s camera has caught the stretch’s dichotomy: busy intersections and open roads, tender townsfolk and cactus-like cowboys, skyscrapers and tall pines. Her lush, vivid photography of these western jewels could stand alone. But, when paired with her evocative writing, Westerners and non-Westerners alike discover a compelling sense of place. AnnTorrence.com/Hwy89

BEST POETRY BOOK
This Noisy Egg, by Nicole Walker

Emotionally charged with diverse explorations into life and physicality, University of Utah alumna Nicole Walker’s This Noisy Egg doesn’t read like most poetry collections. The 39 pieces—some extending 12 pages—prompt the reader into reliving experiences from which their lives were defined. Poems like “Canister & Turkey Vulture” and “The Coroner Senses a Blackbird” are saturated with hidden meanings, folded over one another in a thoughtful arrangement that urges a second reading. None are written or designed to complement each other, yet somehow they do—almost like a collection of misfit prose. NikWalk.com

BEST ZINE
Sofa King

Started as a spirited idea about the “ridiculousness” between friends by local ziners Willy Nevins and Ty Weeks, Sofa King’s first issue was published in 2009, and to the surprise of its creators, the public dug it. It was a collaborative effort between the two as well as several other contributors, who provided poetry, real and fictional stories, comics and collages—all for free public consumption. And to make it more interesting, every page is taped by hand before headed to the copier. Who needs a computer when you’ve got skills?

SourAngelica_1487.jpgBEST CLASSICAL/OPERA PERFORMANCE OR PRODUCTION
Suor Angelica (Utah Opera)

Puccini’s Suor Angelica is a tough nut to crack. The climactic moment in the story of a nun who learns that the son she was forced to give up has died involves a vision of the Virgin Mary shepherding the dead boy to his dying mother, who’s in the midst of her own suicide. The scene runs the risk of becoming unintentionally humorous, but in Utah Opera’s hands, it was an extraordinary, almost hallucinogenic moment of unadulterated tragedy. Jennifer Welch-Babidge, as the tragic Sister Angelica, stripped down her performance to its simplest and most affecting core, and as she reached out to her dead son, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. UtahOpera.org

BEST PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION
The Body Illustrated, Todd Keith & Renee Keith, Utah Arts Alliance Gallery

This recently married duo took on two art forms with their essay of the human body: photography, which they’ve practiced for years, and applying painting their models, which they just recently learned. The results run from trompe-l’œil effects, in which models meld into backgrounds of fauna or wallpaper patterns, to whimsical characters that almost jump right off the emulsion. It’s all created with a spirit of great fun. ArtBodyPaint.com

Uconoclastsw.jpgBEST PAINTING EXHIBITION
Uconoclasts: Suite 1, Trent Call & Ken Sanders, Rose Wagner Center

Among local painters, Trent Call is singular in his ability to surprise with his sheer range of styles—from graffiti-inspired pop art to colorful abstractions to subtly rendered portraits and landscapes. Uconoclasts paired him with “word portraits” by rare-book dealer Ken Sanders. Planned as a “three suite” project, Part 1 depicted literary figures with various connections to Utah, from Edward Abbey and Fawn Brodie, who have strong connections to our history, to beatnik icon Neal Cassady, who was born here but not commonly associated with the state. All their idiosyncracies shine through in this exhibition. Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3. Swinj.com

BEST SCULPTURE/ MIXED MEDIA EXHIBITION
Contemporary Masters (Salt Lake Art Center)

Nothing at the Salt Lake Art Center has exhibited such a sense of play as this inaugural show under newly minted gallery director Adam Price. More than 23 local and national artists created their own skewed visions for 18 holes of playable miniature golf. Since each hole was also a work of art, sometimes you had to stop and just behold the sheer ingenuity before moving on in exasperation at the difficulty of some of them. Rarely has a group of artworks offered so friendly an approach. SLArtCenter.org

BEST TOURING/NON-LOCAL VISUAL ARTS EXHIBITION
Jamie Wyeth: Seven Deadly Sins (Salt Lake Art Center)

Perhaps it’s natural that artist Jamie Wyeth’s series of seagull paintings portraying the so-called seven deadly sins would strike a chord in Utah, given the reverence Utah shows for its state bird. But anyone who caught Wyeth’s show at Salt Lake Art Center knows that the artist—son of famed painter Andrew Wyeth—does not necessarily see the birds in a positive light. Instead, they’re ideal purveyors of the concepts of pride, gluttony, avarice, envy, lust, sloth and anger. The bold images were disturbing to some, intriguing to all, and collectively his canvases made up one of the more thought-provoking exhibitions of the year. SLArtCenter.org

CeinWatson.jpgBEST ILLUSTRATION EXHIBITION
Cein Watson

He may have departed for Vermont this summer, but the effects of Cein Watson’s artwork remain an influence that can’t be measured. As one of the most intricate and painstakingly detailed illustrators in our art scene, his attention to the minuscule and to orientation have made his works some of the most coveted to come out of the Captain Captain Studios. Whether it be body organs without bodies, a mutated flower arrangement or a stand-alone construct with no purpose, Watson’s work has always been a refreshing trip down the wickedly elaborate. CeinWatson.com

BEST GRAFFITI/PUBLIC ART
Kier Defstar

A familiar name in local graff circles, you can find Defstar’s work all over the valley in commission pieces, not to mention being a mainstay on the 337 Memorial Wall. Personalizing his work—as if writing a memoir to some degree—while adding humorous images to the spotlight, the self-taught artist earned his cred amongst Salt Lake City’s finest and the respect of other crews both at home and abroad. Now a frequent traveler around the Americas, Defstar continues his work as an ambassador of sorts for the art form while still managing to paint Utah his own way. MySpace.com/KierDefstar

Stephen_hairguy.jpgBEST ARTISTIC HAIR DESIGN
Steve Robertson, Lunatic Fringe

The hairstyles created by Robertson can most easily be described as electric. Throughout his portfolio, hair stands on end, flies at gravity-defying angles and bursts with vibrant colors not found in nature. After the styling is finished, many of the models seem more suited to a journey through a world created by Tim Burton rather than Ralph Lauren. Yes, Robertson can do classic styles, and some are shown on his Website, but he really excels when he lets his creativity run wild. LunaticFringeSalon.com, StevenRobertsonHair.com

AllisonDayton2.jpgBEST JEWELRY DESIGN
Allison Dayton

It’s not hard to see why Allison Dayton has come away with her fourth straight readers’ pick in this category. Her creative jewelry is both somehow fresh and familiar while also being global and timeless. Take her bold silver garnet dragon earrings, with faces of dragons that look pulled from the walls of some Cambodian temple. Contrast those with her cute and jangly jade, pink quartz or pearl bauble earrings attatched to smashed silver hoops, with the baubles hanging in grape-shaped bunches. With all her pieces displaying a similar refined playfulness—from golden Koi necklaces to her shattered red-coral bracelets—it’s no wonder this unstoppable diva of design keeps winning our readers’ hearts with her inspired creations. AllisonDayton.com

BEST FASHION DESIGN
Krista Nielson

Krista Nielson knows fashion. A seamstress and designer most of her life, she switched from playing the stock market to begin a full-time career in design, as well as to write a fashion column for a ... er ... rival publication. The move paid off: Nielson has garnered local and national awards for her designs, which merge sophistication with a sense of daring fun. Her frocks, coats and shoes are eminently the type of glamorous fashion every woman yearns to have in her closet. Her Metamorphosis collection is especially striking—imagine a ruffled black, gray and white evening dress made from old T-shirts and sweatshirts. Who says you can’t be comfortable and look hot? KristaNielson.com

BEST TATTOO ARTIST
Sarah de Azevedo

Even a quick browse of her portfolio explains why Oni Tattoo’s Sarah de Azevedo won this category for the second year running. From classic ink-fodder like pin-up girls to unique and whimsical sketches of an umbrella and hourglass, de Azevedo puts vitality and originality into her body art. Flowers and animals are also common to Azevedo’s work, but her birds and other wildlife are charming without being precious—like sketches out of Birds of America, not twittering cartoons. Heck, Azevedo even brings depth and beauty to a stylized head of broccoli, seemingly ensuring that her ink will not be a morning-after regret on the human canvases lucky enough to get under her needle. 325 E. 900 South, 801-355-1885, OniTattooGallery.com

SmogLakeCity.jpgBEST SHORT FILM
Smog Lake City: Main Street (The Dada Factory)

If you’re reading this paper, you’ve probably dealt with the yearly inversion that turns the Wasatch Front into a bowl of polluted soup. But rather than just suffer another year in the murk, David Davis and Alex Haworth of The Dada Factory took their camera to Main Street in January and captured the essence of the smog. Showcasing downtown landmarks and residents overcome by the orange-lit haze to a groovy jazz beat, the four-minute piece highlights the beauty and overpowering nature to be found in health-impairing waste. YouTube.com/TheDadaFactory

staff_choice.jpg

Best Paper Tiger
Jared Steffensen

Perhaps best known for his chipboard-and-paper sculptures, and Utah colloquialism works, Steffensen has made some great stuff this year. He’s shown at Sam Weller’s Bookstore and Kayo and Garfo galleries—and his installation and sculptures just get better and better. They’re truly one-of-a-kind—good craft and good design with an acute sense of simplicity, topped with just the tiniest hint of humor and cultural reference. Gotta love those paper mountains! JaredSteffensen.com

Best Intro to SLC’s Theater & Dance
EVE

First Night’s blossoming into EVE was especially rewarding for those unfamiliar with Utah’s many talented performance artists. A $15 three-day whirlwind tour at the Rose Wagner allowed audiences to see performances in short, easy-to-consume doses. The 2009-10 celebration featured performances from the Utah Contemporary Theatre, Wasatch Theatre Company, Dance Theatre Coalition, and Salt Lake City dance staples Repertory Dance Theatre and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company sharing a stage. EVESLC.com

Too_Much_Memory.jpgBest Re-re-adaptation
Too Much Memory, Salt Lake Acting Company

Playwright and director Meg Gibson’s first play unabashedly asked audiences tough questions, like: “When a country is in crisis, what are the rights of the individual? Of the government? How are we silenced? How do we lead? How do we maintain democracy?” Aided by playwright Keith Reddin, she wrote an adaptation of an adaptation of a translation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Their fresh take of a young woman coming into her own voice in modern times and how she collides with the established power attracted a young, hip crowd. And, unlike some lengthy Antigone productions, this one was concise and meaningful. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

Read the 2010-2011 Utah Theater & Dance Schedule

Best Way to Walk
The New Pedestrian

When going from Library Square to the Broadway arts district on any given gallery stroll you could: A. walk, B. bike, C. drive or D. dance. Performance troupe New Pedestrians would say that’s a no-brainer. They dance for the love of dance but also to challenge preconceived notions of movement and transportation. They get inquisitive looks and, at times, have people join them, which they wholeheartedly encourage. Every third Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., look for a group wearing white jumpsuits and headlamps treating the city streets like it’s their playground. NewPed.wordpress.com

Best “You-Be-The- Author-Too” Novel
Velwythe by Bonn Turkington

A book, once written, is permanent. But author and literature theorist Bonn Turkington thought since life is constantly evolving, a novel series should, too. He created an imaginary warring world, Velwythe, with protagonist Vaan venturing forth after consulting a priest about night tremors and being visited by a presence one evening. That first volume sets the stage and serves as a catalyst for readers’ interaction, through social networking—Facebook, Twitter and Wiki—and its Website to create additional characters, places and things in Velwythe that will ultimately dictate Vaan’s adventures in subsequent books. Readers, then, see the influences of their creativity. Velwythe.com

Circle_Cycle.jpgBest Geometry
Circle Cycle
Sure, rhombuses are fun—but they don’t roll. And in life, you never hear anyone say, “life revolves in pentagons.” That’s why circles were chosen for January’s Circle Cycle, performed by the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The narrator, looking back at her elementary school years, helped bridge choreographed pieces that consisted of flips, somersaults, gigantic weather balloons and, the finale, balloons dropped onto the audience from the ceiling. They only lacked the Flaming Lips’ human-size hamster ball. If you missed it, don’t worry, because they’re performing the family-oriented pieces in 2011 to give everyone—locals and the many schools that receive free tickets—a chance to go. RirieWoodbury.com

Best Big Loving
Brady Udall,
The Lonely Polygamist
Brady Udall’s novel shows that even a polygamist daddy with multiple wives and dozens of kids can get lonely, as Udall masterfully illustrates how polygamy is both so much more—and less—than it’s cracked up to be. The Lonely Polygamist follows Golden Richards as he is forced to take a job building a whorehouse in Nevada so that he can support his ever-growing clan of four wives and 28 children back in southern Utah. Udall shows his chops by expertly weaving in an underlying theme that will become a metaphor for the Richards family. BradyUdall.com

Best Recent History
Brian Q. Cannon, Jessie L. Embry,
Utah in the 20th Century
In between Utah’s insular, Mormon-dominated 19th century and its 21st-century attempts to capitalize on its status as an international Olympic city capable of hosting the outside world and the attendant dollars sits Utah in the 20th century. Utah in the 20th Century, edited by Brian Q. Cannon and Jessie L. Embry, explores the main themes of those 100 years, but also has room for the quirkier parts of the state’s past, touching on everything from State Street motels to sugar beets.

Best Use of Chocolate Sauce
Ashley Anderson and Regina Rocke,
In & Out
Sugar Space’s production highlighted one Utah choreographer (Ashley Anderson) and one from outside the studio (Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Regina Rocke). Rocke’s racy work was certainly something Utah rarely sees, challenging dance’s status quo in the performance’s final provocative piece. She spoke over a prerecorded, original “Johnny Teabag” monologue; the New York accent and vulgarity made even Anderson crack a smile. In conclusion, Rocke said, “What would a performance art piece be without blackface?” and proceeded to lather Anderson in Hersheys chocolate sauce and glitter. The historical, gender and racial jokes left the audience with something to chew on—or, in this case, lick off. TheSugarSpace.com

Best Dance Innovation
Innovations (Ballet West)

According to Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute, the reason he created Innovations three years ago was to use it “as a platform to present and experiment with new ballet creations.” Its mission is two-fold: To expose audiences and artists alike to new and cutting-edge creations from around the world and to develop artists’ abilities as dancers and choreographers. This year, three Ballet West dancers got their chance to premiere original work alongside two other prominent choreographers, Helen Pickett and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s artistic director Charlotte Boye-Christensen. BalletWest.org

Best Community Dance Outreach
Repertory Dance Theatre

Almost all of the professional dance companies that call Utah home have some sort of community outreach program. RDT, though, goes way beyond the expected norm. Not only does it take performing arts into the schools, it also offers a wider array of dance classes open to anybody wishing to try their hand at tango, African rhythms, modern, etc. The Ring-Around-The-Rose series helps the company combine forces with all sorts of other community performing groups, and the Green Map initiative has them “creating paths of inquiry, exploration and expression [while] investing in a more sustainable future” for our community. RDTUtah.org

Green_Monk_cover.jpgBest Localized Comic Book
Brandon Dayton,
The Green Monk
Just a year ago, Brandon Dayton was an unknown illustrator out of BYU working for a game company. But all it took was one comic book to get him massive local attention. The Green Monk—a small action story based around a traveling fighter with a bloody past looking to right the wrongs of his chaotic world—made its way around the comic shops in late 2009 and gained a following in the comic and zine communities. Since that time, his work has become in-demand, and plans are already under way to continue the promising series. BrandonDayton.com

Best Art Consigliere
Salt Lake City Arts Council

If there’s one reason for a national magazine recently naming Utah’s capital city as one of the “Nation’s Top Arts Destinations,” it would be the Salt Lake City Arts Council. Housed in the Art Barn at Reservoir Park, the arts council is responsible for everything from the Living Traditions Festival to Flying Objects 2.0, a series of sculptures enhancing the cityscape. The council is also behind several galleries and a number of other art happenings, including the Guest Writers Series, Brown Bag Concert Series and the ever-popular Twilight Concert Series. 54 Finch Lane, 809-596-5000, SLCGov.com/Arts

Best Wino Art
State Wine Store No. 35

At DABC Wine Store No. 35—the flagship store on 300 East—you’ll find a vast array of wines for every budget, along with a knowledgeable staff to help with all your wine questions and purchases. But, Store No. 35 offers something the other wine stores around town don’t: an in-store art gallery. Peruse the store’s walls and you’ll see frequently changing exhibits of art produced by Utah artists. Recent hangings include Parowan-based Valerie Orlemann’s realist landscapes in oil on canvas, and Joshua Baird’s landscapes that blend the representational with the abstract. So, the next time you’re hunting down that rare bottle of Lafite Rothschild, you might just wind up taking home a painting or two, as well. 255 S. 300 East, 801-533-6444

Best Food Art
Laura Besterfeldt

It’s not exactly edible, nor does it even look very delectable, but jewelry artist Laura Besterfeldt’s “genetically modified food art” is candy for the eyes. Her miniature food jewelry includes baby corn cast into sterling silver and then fabricated to be the “corn-horseman.” Even odder and more head-turning is a baby pumpkin cast and fabricated to be “pump-octoman-a-pus,” possessing eight man legs with a pumpkin body. Always pushing the envelope, her Amuse-Bouche collection includes pieces such as lavender-packed mussels finished with sterling silver and a dollop of amethyst, as well as a salmon-fin hat pin garnished with a rosemary sprig, a bowtie-pasta bolo tie and a fusilli-pasta chain clasped with octopus legs. Yum! MySpace.com/2ndSkinJewelry

Best Old-School Illusionist
Michelangelo

Once stage magicians walked the Earth like giants; nowadays, we all seem too jaded to surrender to illusion. Utah’s Michael Christenson, who performs as Michelangelo, clearly isn’t ready to surrender to a world without magic. No mere sleight-of-hand technician—though he’s more than proficient at trickery with cards, linking rings and ropes—Michelangelo delivers beautiful assistants sawed in half, individuals transported from locked boxes and other mysterious disappearances. And he does it all with a stagecraft that reminds us how much of magic is the art of theatrical dazzle, combined with figuring out how to get you to look exactly where he wants you to look. Illusionist.net

Best Recycled Works
Joe Norman, Blue Boat Home Design

We’re not kidding when we say this furniture is pure junk. Artist Joe Norman painstakingly crafts sculptures and furnishings out of leftover materials more suited for the dump, creating eco-friendly products with both an aesthetic and practical use. Using items like wood pallets, crankshafts, bike gears, concrete bits, scrapmetal and even old bomb casings as material, Norman is able to fashion anything into a dining-room table or a matching desk-and-chair set—finding beauty and use in that which has been discarded, giving his customers enjoyment and the environment a break. BlueBoatHomeDesign.com

SLCitizen.jpgBest Fashion Locale
Lindsay Frendt, SLCitizen

When Matt Monson sold SLCitizen last year, many worried what would become of the place—especially after a three-month closure in the Salt Lake City Main Library. But Lindsay Frendt revitalized the space with a variety of products from artists and crafters, plus custom clothing lines from Jordan Halverson, Black Chandelier, White Elephant Collective and more, making the shop experts on localized trends overnight. The location has delivered added life and business to the promenade while carrying on the store’s prior creed of supporting local fashion. Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 801-363-3619. Facebook.com/SaltLakeCitizen

Best New Gallery
Matthew Potter, Ephemera Arts

Located in a residential/business building on Broadway next door to Bingham Cyclery, Ephemera Arts has quickly become a standout addition. Filling the void that nearby Palmer’s left in 2009, owner and resident artist Matthew Potter wanted to bring life back to the area while also showcasing unique artists. He took over an empty warehouse-like area and transformed its open space into an inviting display room. LED orb lights, abstract paintings and morphed pottery, accompanied by musical performances by some of Utah’s finest bands, make for an awesome visit every gallery stroll. And the view of Pioneer Park isn’t too shabby, either. 336 W. 300 South, No. 109, EphemeraArts.com

Best Surprise Destination
Central Utah Art Center

Residing in the most unlikely of locations, the CUAC has been bringing art lovers to Ephraim in droves. Housed in the roller mill near the town’s center, the gallery has become a community hotspot for culture, a resource for nearby Snow College, a tourist attraction and, in recent years, a day-trip destination for some of Utah’s most prominent artists. Its efforts were recently recognized in the form of a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, which has helped it expand and turn part of the city into an artistic getaway—very fitting for the near-center of the state. 86 N. Main, Ephraim, 801-214-8278, CUArtCenter.org

Best Animated Prints
Nick & Erin Potter, Potter Press

Most screen-print artists try to put a signature on every piece so you know it’s theirs, but few create their own world within each one. The stylish posters created by Nick and Erin Potter do far more than promote the latest concert in town—they visually delight and tell a story of their own in a single viewing. A turtle with a city on its back, a monster swallowing a Viking ship, a robot dancing with a princess and dozens more bring life to the streets and stores they hang in. It’s no wonder they’ve become a favorite of bands both visiting and homegrown. MySpace.com/PotterPress

BlondeGrizzly.jpgBest Geek Art
Hillary & Caleb Barney, Blonde Grizzly

It takes a rare gallery to display a children’s figure breathing fire and scorching all in its path, with the clever title “St. Elmo’s Fire” below it; a small sample of the twisted pop-culture art you’ll find on 400 South. Replacing a photographer’s office, the married duo of Hillary and Caleb Barney brought in artists from around the country mixed with locals, all intent to re-envision your childhood memories. Featuring limited editions and custom prints, not to mention clothing and accessories far better and cheaper than you’d find in a trendy mall shop, the place promises to become a fixture for years to come. 15 E. 400 South, 801-355-9075, BlondeGrizzly.com

Best Cinematic Influence
Tower Theater’s Open-Screen Night

Overlooked by some in the film community, yet vitally essential in helping new filmmakers, these impromptu short-film festivals have featured some of the finest up-and-coming directors and writers in our community. Usually playing the latest short films from students finishing up their semester projects, these mini-fests also showcase material from people dedicated to the craft with samples of their movies, or even something an aspiring filmmaker attempted over a weekend. Now running every three months through the Salt Lake Film Society, they’ve become a staple at the Tower, boasting sellout shows this year. 876 E. 900 South, SaltLakeFilmSociety.org

Best Gender Benders
Star
Once a month on a Thursday night, something magical takes over El Paisa grill, a critically well-regarded Mexican eatery in West Valley City. Star is made up of transgender male-to-female performers who offer up slinky lip-sync impersonations of female Latino pop stars, ranging from Thalia and Gloria Trevy to Shakira and Celia Cruz. While Roger (aka Jocelyn) is the master of ceremonies and provides a ribald commentary—shifting into English to translate for the Spanish-challenged gringos—Star stalwarts like Josefina and Diana go for more straight-laced yet provocative performances. It’s a couple of hours of dancing on a shoestring that, whether you speak Spanish or not, always bring the house down. 2126 S. 3200 West, 801-973-6660

H_House_100916.jpgBest Cool Modern Home
Pierre Langue’s H-House

If you’re going to build on the city’s upper benches, then, for God’s sake, make an artistic statement. Forget your McMansions, your gated palaces and fortresses: Build a modern monster. That’s what Pierre Langue of Axis Architects did in his strikingly modern 4,100-square-foot home on Salt Lake City’s east bench on Devonshire Drive. The $850,000 home offers expansive westerly views that include a built-in shading device so the house doesn’t overheat. By following the slope of the terrain, the house becomes more integrated into the hillside and more of glistening jewel on the hill rather than a surly manor. AxisArchitects.com

Best Chronicle of a Utah-Born Cult Phenomenon
Michael Paul Stephenson,
Best Worst Movie
Little did Utah native Michael Paul Stephenson know that when he was plucked from obscurity to be the lead in a locally shot movie called Goblin that he would launch a career not as a great actor, but as a great documentary filmmaker. That movie, Goblin, eventually became Troll 2, one of the worst movies ever made—and Stephenson took on the challenge of exploring not just why an admiring cult has emerged around this stinkpile, but how others involved in its creation feel about its impact on their lives. The result was a charming, genuinely affectionate look at the way sincerely created art—even horrible sincerely created art—has the ability to change people’s lives. BestWorstMovie.com

Best New Podcast
Sending Messages

With a show completely written, performed, edited and produced by the students living at Decker Lake Youth Center, even the minds behind it were curious as to who would be interested in listening. The SpyHop venture counseled by A Damn Podcast co-host Adam Sherlock not only attracted fans in droves, but also earned respect for its original and unfiltered content. These are stories and narratives from the minds of teenagers who have already lived through worse times than some of us will ever know, presented to entertain some and serve as a lesson to others;—an example of what broadcasting these days should be. SpyHop.org/SendingMessages

Best Random Inspiration
Chris Leibow’s Poetry For The People

Already known for his works as a haiku poet—not to mention as the mind behind the Cabaret Voltage literary project—Chris Leibow could easily sit back and enjoy writing books for the masses to read. But he wanted to do more than just entertain—he wanted to influence the public at large. Throughout the downtown area, in very arbitrary locations, Leibow placed samples of his work to be seen by anyone who happened to pass by, all under the unselfish ideal of inspiring creativity. Whether or not it’s a success will only be told by time, but it makes for some lovely reading. SmallThingsPoems.wordpress.com

Best Not-Just-a-Twilight-Ripoff
The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain

True, the premise—a teen girl’s romantic attraction to a mysterious, dangerous, possibly supernatural bad-boy—instantly inspired comparisons to the Twilight series. And author Bree Despain certainly capitalized on that connection with a promotional event during the opening weekend for the film version of New Moon. Yet Utah author Despain’s debut novel proved harder to pigeonhole than that, providing a quirky and effective spin on the “prodigal son” parable. And the ranks of Utah’s talented young-adult novelist cohort continue to grow. BreeDespain.com

DavidAvers.jpgBest Multitasker
David Ivers, Utah Shakespearean Festival

Actor/director Ivers could have been forgiven for taking it easy during this past year before he takes over as co-artistic director for the Utah Shakespearean Festival on Jan. 1 (alongside fellow fest-fave Brian Vaughn). But instead, he spent the summer delivering a couple of mesmerizing performances. In Much Ado About Nothing, Ivers’ Benedick is an anti-marriage wiseass whose speeches and physical contortions had audiences roaring. Ivers’ sense of comic timing was undeniable doing Shakespeare, and his multiple roles in Hitchcock spoof The 39 Steps further proved his ability to bring the funny as he manically switched costumes and accents in filling dozens of parts. Bard.org

Best Use of Crowd Sourcing
Philip Jones,
Worlds of the Crystal Moon: World of Grayham
According to Wikipedia—the Internet’s most reliable source of information—crowd sourcing is “the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve ... goals.” Fantasy author Phillip Jones has redefined reader feedback when he crowd sourced his latest edition of the Worlds of the Crystal Moon: World of Grayham. Jones solicited his readers to help write the fantasy novel and develop characters using Web 2.0 technologies like Facebook. With a little help from his Internet friends, Worlds of the Crystal Moon has become a phenomenon, where anyone in any world can help create this story. How’s that for fantasy? WorldsoftheCrystalMoon.com

Keith_Stubbs.jpgBest Supporter of Comedy in Utah
Keith Stubbs

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger supporter of local comedy than Stubbs. The owner of all four Wiseguys Comedy Cafés, Stubbs works tirelessly, not only to pursue his own stand-up career, but also to promote Utah comics and bring big-name touring comedians to the area. Since the West Valley City location opened its doors in 2001, many Utah comics such as Marcus, Bengt Washburn and Ryan Hamilton have used Wiseguys as a launching pad to successful careers in stand-up, and have had the opportunity to share the stage with some comedic legends, which would not have been possible without Stubbs. WiseguysComedy.com

Best Summer Arts Investment for Kids
U of U Youth Theater School for Youth summer camp

Over a succession of balmy June evenings, child graduates of the University of Utah’s Theatre School for Youth two-week summer camp, directed by the wonderfully energetic and inspired Penelope Caywood, put on a series of shows at Kingsbury Hall to demonstrate all they had learned. Whether it was reciting Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet, performing in a musical about how hard it is to make friends or more somber, message-driven fare, the energy and drive of the young thespians was achingly clear. At the end of each evening, all the kids got up onstage and rousingly sang the camp’s theme song, swaying and holding hands, faces wide with beaming smiles as they belted out how much they love Youth Theatre. YouthTheatre.Utah.edu

TheManWhoLovedBooksToo_14BA.jpgBest Biblio-dick
Ken Sanders

It’s one thing to be a well-known and respected rare-book dealer in your hometown. It’s quite another to be a book dealer who becomes a central character in a nonfiction book. That’s Ken Sanders’ “storied” life for you. In The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, Allison Hoover Bartlett tells the true story of rare-book thief John Charles Gilkey and of a dealer (Ken “Biblio-dick” Sanders) who dons a detective’s hat to track him down. It’s hard to tell who loved books more: the obsessive thief or the obsessive detective. But the happy ending came when Sanders got to host the author and sell her books from his own bookstore. 268 S. 200 East, KenSandersBooks.com

Best Dash of Salt
salt
New Utah Museum of Fine Arts Executive Director Gretchen Dietrich and curator Jill Dawsey made the Utah art scene a little more globally savvy with the introduction of UMFA’s salt, a new semi-annual series of exhibitions designed to showcase work by emerging artists from around the world. The first show, concurrent with the Las Artes de Mexico show, featured the works of Mexico City artist Adriana Lara. Lara’s work “takes the exhibition format itself as an object of inquiry, arranging objects in unexpected, sometimes humorous configurations.” For her UMFA show, that meant the banana peel on the floor of the gallery wasn’t some loose garbage, but a part of the show placed there each day, and the roll of toilet paper on top of a glass case wasn’t an accident either. UMFA.Utah.edu

Best Blonde Utahn Turned Mexican Muralist
Pablo O’Higgins: Works on Paper
Pablo O’Higgins is a virtual unknown in his home state of Utah, but he’s beloved by the working class of Mexico, thanks to his paintings, sketches and murals depicting that same working class as heroes of the Mexican revolution. Despite a conservative upbringing in the Liberty Park neighborhood, O’Higgins lit out for Mexico City when he turned 20 and ended up apprenticing for Diego Rivera. He eventually become a prominent communist artist, traveling to Russia and landing on a deportation list of the Mexican government during the ’50s. UMFA’s Pablo O’Higgins: Works on Paper showcased a series of lithographs of his beloved rural Mexican workers and farmers, and reintroduced Utah to one of its forgotten, yet noteworthy, sons. UMFA.Utah.edu

StolenEscaped.jpgBest Bizarro Gallery
Stolen & Escaped

Located in the basement space below Frosty Darling, the cozy (read: very tiny) Stolen & Escaped gallery opened during the July 2010 gallery stroll with the aptly named My Awesome Art Show. The colorful and offbeat presentation included works by Kelly Peterson (“Animals of Destruction” depicted attacking various sea and air transports), Dave Hurtado (small robots fashioned from electronics leftovers, pictured left) and 10-year-old Kinny Blandford (“Roadkill Peanuts,” the hit of the night). For a funny, left-of-center distraction, Stolen & Escaped is the place to hit during gallery stroll. 177 E. 300 South, StolenAndEscaped.wordpress.com

Best New Voyeurist
Victoria Elena Nones

Nones couldn’t ask for a juicier role for her Salt Lake Acting Company debut than Mama Bear/political “maverick”/Republican loudmouth Sarah Palin. Not only did Nones get every Palinesque wink and wave just right, her bombastic pipes and bawdy stage presence made her a Saturday’s Voyeur highlight in a year when there was plenty of competition, thanks to the foibles of Kevin Garn and Sheldon Killpack. And if you want to hear someone bring down the house doing karaoke like no amateur is capable of, find out the next time Nones is taking the stage at Jam. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

Best Place to Get Consignment Art
Home Again

Walking into Home Again in Sugar House is like finding the cave of wonders. A path winds through the furniture, antiques, paintings and other treasures that cover nearly every inch of floor and wall space. For the past 11 years, locals have been consigning their artwork here. So much inventory was coming from the south valley that, in 2007, owner Emily Larsen opened a second location in Midvale. The historic buildings both stores are housed in, the variety of art you can find and the friendly staff all add to a wonderful experience that beckons you to return for more hunting. 1019 E. 2100 South, 801-487-4668; 7490 Holden St., Midvale, 801-255-5457

Best Environmental Art
Reawakened Beauty: Tillman Crane’s Jordan River Photographs
Salt Lake Valley’s Jordan River provided a meeting point for art and environmentalism in Tillman Crane’s exhibition at the Salt Lake Art Center. Of the photographer’s collection of 30 palladium black & white prints, nine were made mural size and went on the road to introduce K-12 students to the human and natural history of the Jordan River. The Center for Documentary Arts created a 32-page educational catalog to accompany the traveling exhibit. When it arrived at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center close to the river, it made for the perfect opportunity for the ARTrageous education program to give kids a true hands-on experience. Not only did they experience the exhibit, they then walked to the river and collected samples to take back and use in their own art project about the river. SLArtCenter.org, CDAUtah.org

Best Unconventional Space for Unconventional Exhibits
Garfo at the Visual Art Institute

Tucked into the quiet residential neighborhood north of Sugar House Park, the old Garfield School had fallen into disrepair before it was adopted by the Visual Art Institute after-school arts program. Its exhibitional counterpart, Garfo Gallery, has for more than a year offered challenging art openings like Containment (using the human figure as “container”) and Friends of Friends, in which artists referred other artist friends to display. The results have been an always-intriguing mix of the best local artists, as well as national and international up-and-comers. 1838 S. 1500 East. VisualArtInstitute.org/GarfoArtCenter.htm

Best Theater Director for the Flower-Child Revival
Randy Barton

How appropriate that when the times got harsh for Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, the board, in May 2009, brought in an uber-local boy instead of a big-city theater guru to save the day. Randy Barton, the afternoon host of KPCW’s The Local View and founder of nonprofit Mountain Town Stages, seems to have a feel for what motivates the aging ski bums who comprise the Park City arts patronage to support local theater: sex, drugs and rock & roll. Hence, the success of Egyptian's production of Hair and hosting of Reefer Madness, a production of Dark Horse Theatre Company. More and more, the theater is the gathering spot for large and small shows, from stand-up comedy to cabarets and touring performances; Barton’s mad impresario skills seem to be keeping the lights on and the crowds coming back for more. Not too bad for the guy who founded the Sconecutter chain. EgyptianTheatreCompany.org

Best Place to Get Framed
Signed & Numbered

Locally owned and operated, Signed & Numbered not only sells one-of-a-kind art and screen-print posters—many of which are on consignment from Utah artists—but also has amazing prices for custom framing. The staff is friendly, and its stock is constantly being updated. Owner/artist Leia Bell manages the eclectic inventory, while her husband, Phil Sherburne, former owner of Kilby Court, manufactures the frames from raw and reclaimed wood. This allows Signed & Numbered to charge much less for its materials and labor than any big-box frame store. Why go anywhere else? 2105 E. 2100 South, 801-596-2093, Signed-Numbered.com

Best Celebrity Non-Sighting at Sundance
Banksy graffiti artist

With the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, about the infamous, unrecognizable graffiti artist Banksy, opening at Sundance this year, the buzz soon became almost less about whether the artistic prankster would unmask himself than whether the stenciled images that started turning up on walls around Park City and even Salt Lake City were genuine Banksy works. As critical word on the film spread like similar aesthetic wildfire, the impression became that, as fascinating as the pieces were, they shed as little light on this mysterious figure as the playfully rendered film.

Best Kindle-Killer
Marriott Library Book Arts Program

E-book sales are on the rise, but tangible, bound books still possess qualities that can’t be replicated in a digital device. The Book Arts Program at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library has been championing the beauty and tradition of books since 1995, hosting semester-length classes and weekend workshops on binding, letterpress, engraving and other aspects of book design and production. Whether you have shelves of cherished, well-worn tomes at home or are looking for yet another artistic outlet, the Book Arts Program is sure to inspire and increase your appreciation of books. Marriott Library, Fourth Floor, 295 S. 1500 East, 801-585-9191

Best Unscripted Asides
John Terry, University of Utah Theatre Department’s
The Rocky Horror Show
Don’t envy an actor who plays Frank N. Furter, the larger-than-life transsexual from Transylvania in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show. One minute you have a devotee shouting obscenities practiced a hundred times at late-night showings of the film version, and the next you have another devotee shouting another obscenity, or three shouting different things. As the lead performer, you’ve got to keep the play on track, but you can’t ignore the hecklers; shouting at the performers is part of Rocky Horror’s magic, on screen or stage. Terry was comfortably able to respond to most all of the heckles and outbursts without losing a step, or the pace of the script. Terry’s athleticism also made for a very limber and energetic Frank—which made the fishnets and heels all the more arousing. Theatre.Utah.edu

Best Prolific Scribe
Shannon Hale

Award-winning Utah author Shannon Hale’s released her latest book, graphic novel Calamity Jack, back in January and has no books set for release until 2012, but she’s stayed busy: On her blog she tackles censorship, book-rating systems, morals in literature and more, inviting fellow authors, librarians, parents and readers to join in the discussion. Hale dissects the controversial issues with tact, but is frank in expressing her own opinions, giving readers plenty of food for thought about the changing landscape of literature. Oh, and Hale crafts these blog posts while working on two novels, caring for two young children and being pregnant with twins. Squeetus.com

Best P(art)ies
The Utah Pickle Factory

Sipping wine from a plastic cup—or straight from the bottle—in one of Salt Lake City’s most inspiring artist hives feels cosmopolitan, but not fancy; the setting from rafters to floors is gritty. The 14,000-square-foot brick structure in the industrial Granary District of west downtown is filled with designers, painters and sculptors and their wild imaginations set to cloth, canvas and clay. The mostly young crowd at open houses at The Utah Pickle Factory, formerly known as the Pickle Company, gets to interact with the artists in their place of work—sometimes in the piece of work for large installations. For young—or just fun—people who feel constricted in stuffier SLC galleries, the Pickle Factory is a way to explore local art without feeling embarrassed that you brought your own tall-boy PBR. PickleFactory.tumblr.com

Best Iron Comic
Marcus

Probably no single local entertainer has ever worked as hard as Marcus did to just fill a room in May 2010—he was a comic on a mission, and that mission was to film a stand-up special in front of a jam-packed Kingsbury Hall. Despite several weeks of tireless promotion in every last cranny of local media, he didn’t quite fill every seat, but the cameras rolled on The Hand That Feeds (a self-financed comedy concert special Marcus would then pitch for a TV network slot) nonetheless. Even after shooting the marathon three-hours-plus performance of jokes, stories and observations, Marcus still greeted fans and signed autographs afterward, and then hosted an after-party. The Hand That Feeds will be released on DVD and available for downloading in October.
Facebook.com/ComedianMarcus

Best Drunken Movie Podcast
Groundbreaking Shit!

It may not be technically “groundbreaking” (who doesn’t have a flick-critique podcast anymore?), but few Utah-produced shows are as funny as Groundbreaking Shit!. Hosts Lydia, Matt and Nichole drink, curse, giggle, drink some more, pontificate and occasionally even offer some spot-on criticisms of movies new and old, as well as director vs. director face-offs (pretty sure no one’s ever done Spike Jonze vs. Sofia Coppola before). It’s even entertaining if the listener is sober—if you’re into that. GroundbreakingPodcast.tumblr.com

Best Primate Painting
OrangeUtahn

Four primates that painted as a hobby made the leap to a public show in July and August 2010. Working with local artists, the Hogle Zoo orangutans—Talukan, Elijah, Eve and Acara—painted more than 30 pieces that were displayed at the Foothill-Anderson branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library system. The paintings were auctioned off to raise money for the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Foundation, which is trying to preserve orangutan habitat in Borneo that is threatened by, primarily, deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations. 2600 Sunnyside Ave., 801-582-1631, HogleZoo.org

Best Canceled Art Program
YouthCity Artways

Budget shortfalls in Salt Lake City forced the cancellation of the popular youth arts program, YouthCity Artways. The program served many age groups, was especially adept at introducing young children to art through classes that were, well, fun. They also partnered with area schools to bring arts education into the classroom. Now, the task of introducing children to art will be left to the Salt Lake City Arts Council, which will receive grant money to target more at-risk populations. It’s an admirable goal, but the beauty of YouthCity Artways was that it targeted the whole population.

Best Watercolor Photographs
Stephen Speckman,
Illusions
Using photographic tricks that don’t include the word “Photoshop,” Speckman creates landscape photography that has the hazy colors of Impressionist watercolors. His pictures are primarily of notable northern Utah landmarks, such as the “Spiral Jetty.” The best of the exhibit, which can be found at Utah Artists Hands, is “Antelope Island Bison.” In that picture, the bison are shrouded in a haze of muted tones that suggests “cold, windy day.” UtahHands.com/artists/speckman/illusions_portfolio.html

Touch_ed_.jpgBest Sister Act
Jennifer Joan Thompson and Kelly Hutchinson,
Touch(ed)
Touch(ed)
tricks the audience into accepting too quickly a basic motif: Kay (Jennifer Joan Thompson) as the frantically responsible and professional sister, and Emma (Kelly Hutchinson) as Kay’s schizophrenic and institutionalized sister. Hutchinson convincingly takes Kay from medicated zombie to an off-her-meds holistic-health superstar—securing laughs in each form—while Thompson’s performance slowly dropped clues of Kay’s own subtle neuroses. Thompson and Hutchinson’s sister act reveals the think-big questions that are the precious gems of Bess Wohl’s script, which would be lost entirely but for the skills of talented actors who deftly portray the blurry line between crazy, and not. PioneerTheatre.org

Best Therapeutic Art
River of Life
For hundreds of women of Murray’s Center for Women and Children—a Volunteer of America detoxification center—fighting addiction and homelessness is a painful struggle. For some, however, art has become a way to express where they’ve come from and where they’re going. In August, the women and their children unveiled a collaborative mural titled “River of Life,” depicting a river running past caricatures of storm clouds and volcanoes and on to sunnier, idyllic settings where the women and their children emerge into the light of a new day. It’s a good reminder of the cathartic power of art to express, heal and bring people—especially families—together. 697 W. 4170 South, 801-261-9177, VOAUT.org

Best Salt Shake-Up
Levi Jackson’s ReIntroduction

Levi Jackson’s work rubs salt into old wounds, taking an old ecological disaster and reinterpreting it in an aesthetically beautiful way. Jackson revisits the Cainesville Wash, where an uncapped oil well from the ’50s leaked saline and cut a giant scar into the desert. Jackson, a Brigham Young University sculpture student, arranged 25 transparent containers filled with a combined ton of salt adjacent to the site of the disaster east of Capitol Reef National Park. He then photographed the piece and took it all down again—a piece that’s not only art but a gesture at reconciliation between environment and the recklessness of industry. LeviJ.com

Best Local Zombie Studio
Ritual Pictures

For Russ Adams, there’s an appeal to making medieval zombie movies. Mainly, you don’t waste time having to explain the hows and whys of a zombie incursion, and instead just drop the undead into a frightened culture. Ritual Pictures’ latest production-in-the-works, The Light of Daigh, plays off of medieval plague hysteria by making the dead chase after the living and enjoy a bloody feast of the peasants who haven’t kept up on their cardio. This little studio that could is looking for donations to get this feature up and running, and could use patrons of the zombie arts for help. RitualPictures.com

Best Familiar Horrors
Grant Fuhst

There’s something oddly familiar about Grant Fuhst’s works—somehow this artist committed to canvas an image pulled right from a surreal dream that sticks to you as you wake up and leaves you shaking your head—like his “The Deathbird,” an homage to a Harlan Ellison short story, where the main figure poses like a bishop from a classical painting but with the face of nightmarish hawk; or “Rocket Girl,” where the half-naked heroine rests against a lunar terrain, staring into the viewer’s eyes. Fuhst’s striking works remain a mainstay at the Poor Yorick studios for being both expertly crafted as well as just creepily familiar, even if on a subconscious level. Poor Yorick Studios, 126 W. Crystal Avenue, 801-759-8681 PoorYorickStudios.com

Best Theater for the Great Recession
Utah Contemporary Theatre

When it comes to supporting the arts, there’s what we wish we could do financially, and there’s what the realities of the current economy permit us to do. But in a bold and visionary gesture, Utah Contemporary Theatre decided it would try to support us. Beginning with April’s production of Talking Wales: Finding Sir Formidor, UCT became Utah’s first all-free, all-the-time professional theater company. Donations are happily welcomed at performances, as are opportunities to buy T-shirts and the like. When artists take a chance on providing unique, original work without the promise of seeing a dime, it’s a remarkable act of faith. UtahContemporaryTheatre.com

Best Departures
Utah Symphony

It’s been an emotional year at the Utah Symphony: Keith Lockhart, music director of the symphony since 1998, departed on a resoundingly high note after completing the “Mahler cycle” by conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor. Taking the baton from him is Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer, from whom we notice another “departure”—away from the tried and true. The rich and varied 2010-11 season (which includes “first” compositions from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) signals Fischer’s determination to enrich the symphony’s repertoire with more challenging and lesser-known works. Following the symphony’s lively Deer Valley Music Festival that this summer featured Ben Folds, Randy Travis, and the music of Led Zeppelin, the orchestra will take a weeklong tour of southern Utah in September. Catch Fischer while he’s spanking new and giving his best juice to a willing orchestra. 123 W. South Temple, 801-533-5626, UtahSymphony.org

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 29,2010 at 12:33

Sarah is the sickest artist out there i've got appointments set up i can't wait for

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 15,2010 at 20:23

Just to clarify: Laughing Stock is in our 17th year of doing improv in downtown Salt Lake City and performances are Friday and Saturday nights.

Thanks to our fans! We love making you laugh. "OBT fever, catch it!"

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 15,2010 at 15:53

Yay for Best Worst Movie! Couldn't have happened to a better cultural phenomenon. Let's see Cleanflix in this spot next year.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 15,2010 at 14:53

Thanks, Artys people, for bringing the book "Wolves, Boys . . " to my attention. I had missed this in the popular press. Fortunately, amazon.com has it in stock.

 

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Posted // September 15,2010 at 11:24

Heads up guys, the Salt Lake City Main Library is on 210 E., not 2010 E. (For the SLCitizen address)

Thanks!!

 

Posted // September 15,2010 at 11:35 - Thanks. Corrected.

 

 
 
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